cover image Years of Dust: The Story of the Dust Bowl

Years of Dust: The Story of the Dust Bowl

Albert Marrin, . . Dutton, $22.99 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-525-42077-4

Calling it “the worst environmental disaster in American history,” historian Marrin (The Great Adventure ) chronicles the Dust Bowl of the 1930s—its causes, devastation, aftermath and potential to recur. The large format allows for plenty of sidebars, maps and striking sepia photographs as Marrin addresses wide-ranging topics, from a discussion of prairie ecology to the story behind Dorothea Lange's famous “Migrant Mother” photograph. Nine chapters detail events leading up to the demise of the prairie grasslands and the tragedies of those affected by the severe dust storms that followed. Easily comprehensible, the lengthy narrative leaves nothing undefined. Numerous side panels place aspects of the tragedy in context, e.g., in recounting the slaughter of buffalo, a sidebar shows a drawing of a buffalo hunter on the cover of Harper's Weekly (“Hunters were social outcasts. Even the army did not want them”). The captions also offer relevant information. Marrin ends with a warning that this type of avoidable disaster can strike again (he notes the dust storms currently taking place in China). A glossary, extensive bibliography and index wrap up this thorough work. Ages 9–up. (Aug.)